Guitars101 - Guitar Forums banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,392 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Lonnie was gracious enough to grant me this interview right after he came off tour, so I personally want to thank him for that. I'm far from a journalist guys, but hopefully everybody will dig this one. :icon_thum


1. So how long have you been involved with guitars Lonnie?

My first experience learning to play was about 29 years ago. Approx. 4 yearslater I started to take it somewhat seriously. From day one I was taking themapart and trying to figure out how they worked. I eventually started to takeapart amps and pedals, then switchers and midi pedals etc. Hasn't ended andstill rip things apart!! I have found a way to keep it a hobby when at home forenjoyment and learning. Studied some electronics over the years as well. Alotof this development was long before all the info on the internet etc. It was a'figure it out on your own' situation and I loved every minute of it.

2. Of all the gear you've had over the years, what would be your most prizedpiece of equipment?

1967 Marshall plexi 50w head and a 1966 Marshall 4x12 with greenback 20's (not25's). Killer amp. Also a pair of Lexicon PCM 42 delay's.

3. Describe a typical day on tour: pre show, during the show, and post show.

This is going to be a long answer, hope no one minds.. There is no typical daybut I'll try to present it that way. Its also slightly different for each band. Generally I get up at 7:30am ish. If we have driven overnight to the next gigmy first mission is get off the bus and find a shower in the arena. Veryimportant start!Generally I don't have to start working until approx. 11am however. The extracouple hours I create for myself here gives me time to contact suppliers forparts etc. when needed, so thats the time where I catch up on e-mails and phonecalls. On the VH tour our stage manager knew I was in the building earlyeveryday and we used that to our advantage by directing the band gear from thetractor trailer to the necessary location. That allowed it to be in place forthe other backline guys when they arrived. Its all about teamwork. There are acouple other things I did at this point that were specific to Ed's setup becauseit was specific to the stage layout. This doesn't apply to every tour. Forexample: running his loom under the stage while the carps are building set stuffon top of the stage. Next up is guiding the band gear onto the stage and getting it into positionwith the local hands.This is where things move at a faster pace with wiring the rig etc. Your tryingto get it done efficiently/quickly yet properly to get to the maintenance aspectas soon as you can. Next you generally try to get the guitars restrung, batteries changed,necessary cleaning etc. as soon as you can. Now it starts to get interesting because its different everyday. Themaintenance can entail anything and generally you never really know what willcome up. It can be anything from intonating a guitar to changing a speaker tochanging damaged guitar parts to fixing a broken cable, or re-setting up thegain structure of a section of the rig, or re-programming some patches that theplayer mentioned were not quite right the night before, or replacing a brokenswitch or led on the pedalboard. Sometimes it can get more specific likereplacing a relay in a switcher, or a dc to dc converter in a patchbox etc. Thiskind of stuff depends on the techs level of knowledge or experience. Some sendit out to be repaired. Like I said, its different everyday. Next up is playing the rig for a bit and dialing the amps a little so itsounds right in the room and try to keep it in the ballpark of what the playeris looking for. At this point we do line check which is basically the audio guysmaking sure they are receiving everything at front-of-house. Sometimes ifsomething is not sounding right to them we work together to figure it out. Oncethis is out of the way you get back to your maintenance program. Hopefully youhave time to hit catering for a quick lunch about now. Sometimes, depending on the gig of course, I get into modding some of the gearand that can be alot of fun. It really depends on the player and your timeschedule. This is not a required part of being a guitar tech but I really enjoyworking with the player in this way. Its great when you can make something soundalot better and of course its all about getting the player in a zone that helikes. With Ed we didn't get into that too much because he pretty much wants hisgear the way it is as long as its consistent. I had some fun doing a few modsfor one of our opening acts (Jonas). Their guitar player (Cory)and I werechatting one day and that lead to modding his old Marshall and Tube Screamer forhim. He was really happy with the results and that was a fun way to get some ofthat creative side out. Generally its getting close to sound-check at this point so you spend the lastbit of time making sure the guitars are tuned and all the small details are inplace to make the player feel comfortable. Sound-check is different for every band. Some don't do it at all, some keep itshort and some are as long as a show. Alot of it is the band working with themonitor people to make sure everything sounds right on stage. This is also thetime when the player will point out if they want something adjusted a littledifferently and this can be anything from the guitar to a processor to an amp.Again, you never really know. Once sound-check is over you try to bang off asmuch of the changes that came up in sound-check as you can. Dinner!!!!!! Another important part of the day and a little bit of time to getaway from the job hopefully. Then I head back to my tech world and finish uplast minute things. Usually I have about an hour or a half hour here plus thetime during the opening act. Changeover is next and its very fast paced. This entails placing pedal-boardsand connecting them, putting down set-lists etc. and testing all gear again.Hopefully no problems come up here because if it does you have a VERY short timeto deal with it. This is where the pressure starts and you have to know how todeal with whatever comes up very quickly. Most times its cool but every once inawhile you get a curve ball. Its VERY important to get it solved quick so theplayer doesn't have to be involved in anyway. Its important to keep theirmindset as positive as possible. Showtime!!! In short we tune guitars and hand them to the player when neededand solve any problems that might come up. On some gigs its more involved. Forexample: I might do all the patch changes so the player can concentrate onplaying. Depends on the tour. Ed does his own switching.Its important to stay focused because you never know what will happen during theshow. It can be as simple as a broken string to an amp go down. The idea ofcourse is to work hard during the day so nothing will happen during the show butanything can come at anytime. How do you predict a fan landing on a pedalboardand messing things up? You can't and it doesn't happen often but I have dealtwith it!!! If you have a rig with alot going on (ie: several amps. hundreds of feet ofcabling, many pedals etc. and your signal goes out it can be anywhere. Youreally have to know what your doing to take that on and come up smiling.Showtime is when you (and the player) really find out what your about. Its a fixit right now kind of situation but its VERY important to keep calm while dealingwith it. If your freaking out its hard to give the player a sense of confidence. Ed throws some curveballs at you during some shows as well. For example: therewere several times when his amp was not quite reacting the way he wanted.Generally that comes down to tube gain structure. I changed alot of tubes DURINGthe show. The first time he asked this of me I was thinking "umm right now Ed"?So I swap them out and pull out my meter and start biasing the amp. Ed says"what are ya doin' ?". "Biasing your amp Ed". He responds with "Just crank itman!" This is pretty unusual but it keeps you on your toes and it kept itinteresting. I had alot of tubes on hand and was ready for it after that! Shows over!! This is the fastest pace of the day. The idea is to work withlocal hands and get all the gear you are responsible for packed as fast as youpossibly can but in a way that is safe to the people around you and not damagethe gear. Alot of this stuff is very heavy and people can get hurt. The reasonwhy we have to move so fast here really comes down to "time is money". Next up is getting the band gear to the trucks and making sure it goes in in theright order. Backline(band gear) are first in the trucks. If we take too long wehold every dept. up. The longer we take the longer everyone takes and thattranslates into local labour costs. The pace is crazy but it can be fun.Everyday on VH the drum tech and I had a fun challenge going on to see who couldpack up faster. It kept it fun and gave us something to rib each other about.At this point we are basically done. Next I find a quick shower and get on-lineto pick up e-mails. Maybe I'm receiving a package of parts tomorrow and I needto know what to expect. Its also a good time to e-mail my sister and tell her Imiss her.Now I head back to the bus and try to relax a bit. Sometimes hard to do with thequick pace of the show and loadout. Next is sleep!!!! Then its 7:30am and I wakeup in another city and do it all over again!!For those who like to count: By the time I get back to the bus at night itsusually 12:30am ish. Thats a long day!!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,392 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
4. With all the buzz surrounding the big Van Halen tour this year, how has lifeon the road with one of rock's most legendary acts been?

To be honest it has been a heck of alot of work. I don't view any artist for whothey are in terms of fame etc. There is no doubt that Ed is an icon but I don'tsee how anyone in my position could view a player/band in that way and be goodat at. I'm here to do a job and have to take it very seriously and responsibly.Ed and I got along very well and that is important. I had fun and met some greatpeople along the way but like I said, it was alot of work.

5. Regarding Ed's use of the chord instead of the wireless, is there really apurpose for this? And would you see him switching back to the wireless unitanytime soon? From a fan's perspective, most of us want him to ditch it so hecan stop trippin over the darn thing!

The bottom line is wireless units change your tone and dynamic range. Ed hasused them for years and I think he finally got tired of the loss of immediacyfrom using a wireless. People use wireless for freedom of movement and thats it.If your #1 concern is tone wireless is not the way to go. I have had alot of experience with everything from inexpensive units up to$13-14,000 units. Nothing beats a good cable. One of the keys to making a cablework sonically for Ed is the Axess-Electronics BS-2 buffer. We run about 75 feetof cable under the stage from his pedal-board to his head and that's alot ofsignal loss. Using a buffer to couple a high impedance source with a lowimpedance load is essential in a case like this but not all buffers are thesame. The Axess BS-2 is a fantastic sounding device. If it didn't sound great wenever would have gotten it passed Ed's ears. He's very particular about how hisrig feels and sounds. I don't see him returning to a wireless but ultimately that is not for me tosay. The way his rig feels (dynamic range, pick attack etc.) are priorities tohim. That essentially disappears or greatly decreases with wireless. I don'tthink he trips over it too much. It does get hung up from time to time but thetrade-off is worth it. Its important for him to enjoy his experience on stageand that translates to fan enjoyment IMO. Using a cable does contribute to thisfactor. He feels more "connected" to his rig with a cable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,392 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
6. There are alot of rumors surrounding Ed and this band, so could you pleaseshine some light on how these guys are, not only as musicians, but just as people in general.

There are alot of rumors flying around and there is obviously some history but Ican only comment on how they interacted with me. At the end of the day they arepeople and all people have good and bad moments. There is no way you could spendthat much time around someone and not see most sides of the picture but I'm notgoing to go into their personal lives too much because that is no ones business.I enjoyed my interactions with each member. Ed is an interesting person. During the solo sections he would hang in my techworld alot and we had some great conversations. He's a smart guy and we havesome common interests that have nothing to do with music. Ed is a person with abig heart. Believe it or not out of any player I have worked with he is the mostthankful appreciative guy. He constantly thanks you for all your hard work andlets you know that your doing a great job. That means alot. He also lets youknow if things are not right but thats cool because its important to know that. Mike is one of the nicest guys is the business. Had the pleasure of hangingout with him a couple times away from the gig and he is just a great person.Always enjoying himself. I had the least interaction with Sammy because he didn't do sound-checks. Hewould stop by my tech world from time to time during the show for a brief chator we would pass in the hallways and he always had a big smile. He's a cool guyand seems to like to keep it fun. Alex is interesting as well. He is really into things. He's involved in allthe production aspects and wants everything to be right. He is focused and Irespect that alot. The Reverend is a cool guy and I enjoyed being around him aswell. He would joke with me from time to time saying "are you still here"? Itwas in fun of course, he knew my gig was alot of work.

7. Of all the guitars Ed uses during the course of a show (Wolfgang's, the 5150Frankenstrat, or the new EVH Charvel's) which does you prefer and why?

The guitars were fine, the problem was Floyd Rose tremolos. They are simply toosoft. I'm not speaking for Ed here, you have to ask him for his opinion. As atech I havea right to my own opinion when I'm responsible for it. When they first arrived on the market they were machined brass and they were aserious piece of machinery, but for a long time they have been made of some sortof softer molded metal. They are too soft for the abuse Ed puts them through.They also sounded alot better when made of brass.Ed is VERY rough on them, its a big part of his style. Ed requires all thebolts to be locked down as hard as possible because if its not it will move. Hereally gives them a workout, never seen anything like it. I was replacing somany Floyd parts youwouldn't believe it. Saddles, string blocks, you name it. Pretty much a nutevery 2 or 3 shows, sometimes daily. We would crush them or strip them out.The tolerances are not tight enough either. Many of the nuts were slightlydifferent heights. That can be a pain when forced to change them that often.The design of a Floyd is great, just wish they were a bit tougher. It works wellfor most players but Ed is not most players. If I had to pick one guitar however it would be the 5150 Frankenstrat. Itsounds great but its just really cool. Alot of history. Also has an original oldFloyd on it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,392 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
8. Describe the first time you went on stage as Edward Van Halen's tech and how it felt holding Ed's guitar?

OMG it was crazy. It was in Atlantic City NJ. VH have a custom stage so its thesame layout in an arena. When we did amphitheaters we couldn't use that stagebut the riggers and carps etc. went to great lengths to keep it consistent forthe band and their techs. My first show was neither situation and the only timethis came up on the tour. Couldn't have made it tougher if it were planned! Itwas an outdoor gig in a parking lot with a rented stage. It threw everything waybehind. Generally we get the band gear to the stage at about 11:30ish am andsound-check was at 4:30ish. This day we didn't get the stage until 3:30pm!!! Ihad no idea what cases were what. Everyone knew I was the new guy and were verywelcoming but you could tell many of them knew I was screwed that day. Itstarted to get so late that several of them started to joke with me about it.In a situation like that you really are screwed but I work very well underpressure and don't feel nervous no matter what situation I'm placed in. I had solittle time to pull everything off that I had no time to think about it. You gointo this mode and just do it. To be honest I have alot of experience as atouring tech and that helps prepare you for something like this. Its also notthe first time I've been faced with this type of situation. I also have alot ofknowledge in guitar rig building, amp modding/repair etc. etc. and that givesyou alot to draw on. Another factor here is that I do my homework. Dave Friedman(of Rack Systems,builder of Ed's rig) is a good friend of mine. I went over every inch of Ed'srig on paper for signal flow and the best way to tackle gain structure, how itspowered and grounded etc.Its not so much self confidence as much as actualizing your abilities. Another very fortunate thing was Mike Keegan, Ed's former tech. He was very kindto drop by and help me out a bit pointing out what was in what case etc. and howhe sets things up. He really is a wonderful person and I'm not just saying thatbecause of this situation. He is just a really good guy. Thank you Mike.Everything ended up happening on schedule and went off flawlessly. I reallydidn't have time to think "hey, this is EVH's guitar"!!! Actually that neverr eally hit me the whole tour. Maybe in time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,392 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
9. How has your playing changed (or improved) by working with Edward?

This is a very good and unexpected question. Ed has a very unusual right hadtechnique and that is part of what makes him unique. I'm well aware that themajority of a persons sound is in their hands. I think seeing that uniqueness inEd helped me reaffirm my own uniqueness. We all have it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,392 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
10. How many guitars does Ed bring on tour?

We had 6 for some of it (5 wolfgangs) and the 5150 Frankenstrat. TheFrankenstrat needed some MAJOR repair and was giving us tuning problems so hesent it home at end of 3rd leg. I simply didn't have the time to tackle theproblems with this guitar and it has alot of history so I didn't want to messwith it. That guitar sounds great!!!We had a new Charvel sent to us for every show, sometimes 2 or 3. Basically Ed likes to play one guitar for the entire show. He appears to connectwith the vibe of one guitar and likes to stick with that. For the 3rd leg it wasthe Tobacco Wolfgang and the 4th leg was the Green Wolfgang.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,392 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
11. How did you land the gig in the first place?

I have been doing this for many years now having toured with artists like KidRock, The Offspring, Tori Amos, Shakira, A Perfect Circle, and many Canadianbands (I live in Toronto) such as Our Lady Peace, I Mother Earth, Nelly Furtado, Finger 11, Big Wreck/ Ian Thornley etc. as well as some rehearsals/one-offs withMarylin Manson and Mary J Blige . Throughout these experiences you develop manyrelationships. One of them is Dave Friedman of Rack Systems in North Hollywood.Dave has become a very good friend and has helped me out alot. (I owe youanother sushi dinner Dave!!). He built Ed's current guitar rig and happens to befriends with Ed's friend/personal assistant Matt. It all came together fromthat.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,392 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
12. What are the best and worst parts of your job?

The worst part of it would be being away from home and from the people you mostcare about. The long days and fast pace are a bit much from time to time but youdo get used to it.The best things are many. I really enjoy the interaction of working with all theother crew people. Some of them are characters!! . We really are a team and eachdept. relies on the other so you really feel like your part of something. Thereare many great people on these crews and it can be fun. I also have a veryindependent side and one aspect that appeals to me is that I don't have someonebreathing down my neck all the time telling me what to do. The person hiring youknows that you know what to do and when and generally leaves you to it. I enjoy the pressure during the show. You are in a position that when somethingdoes go wrong you have to deal with it right NOW. Many jobs are not like that asoften as this and I like that for some reason. Seeing so much of the world is also a wonderful part of it. I think the mostimportant thing I have learnt from that is that we really are all the same. Allof our political/religious etc. differences are bulls**t.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,392 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
13. What is the craziest backstage story that you are allowed to tell us?

Ha! You really should ask Kevin, Michael Anthony's tech. He has been with VH forover 24 years and has seen it all. He has great stories..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,392 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
14. There are rumors flying around about Ed's antics during the song Right Nowat the final show on 11/19/04. Would you be able to tell us as to why Ed smashedhis green Wolfgang? Some say that it was just a goof, others say it symbolizesthe end of Ed and Peavey's relationship, and of course the rumors of Ed'ssupposed alcohol abuse. Would you be able to shine some light on what exactly happened at that last gig?

I'm not interested in commenting on this with the exception of stating that ithad nothing to do with anything gear related. He wasn't frustrated becausesomething wasn't working properly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,392 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
15. You've been on the road with these guys for a while now. What's yourfavorite song to hear night in and out, or are you so focused on Ed and beingready for any possible problems, that you really don't have time to get into the show?

To be honest I'm as focused as I can be on Ed. I grew up on VH so I enjoy themusic but thats not what I'm there for. If I had to pick one song it wouldprobably be Unchained. Who can resist that riff, esp. when he kicks in theflanger and of course the vocal melody/lyrics.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,392 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
16. Lastly, once simple question that I just feel the need to ask. Sam or Dave?(Answer at your own risk!)

Thats not fair!!! Its hard for me to just look at the music aspect of it. At the end of the daythese guys are people and that is a factor as well. I haven't worked with Daveso I have no basis for comment on a human level. Sammy has a really positivevibe and enjoys himself and that's important to the mindset of the tour from aninternal perspective. Sammy has alot of fun on stage and the audience obviouslypicks up on that. In terms of the music....I grew up on early VH and loved Dave's character andlyrics. He was bigger than life and he was about as good as it will ever be as afront-man for a rock band in his day. He was up there with Freddy Mercury andBono IMO and had the audience in the palm of their hand as it were. Sammy'sstuff is really melodic/fun and it took VH to new heights in terms of fan base.I don't think I can choose between the two. I see positives in both and enjoyboth. Thanks for reading everyone!
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top